The Benefits of Wild Blueberries

Last week, I went wild. I’m talking about going to Maine and learning more about the benefits of wild blueberries.

I already knew wild blueberries were delicious. However, there was a lot that I did not know about them until I got to see for myself how they are grown, harvested, and packaged.

Here’s what I learned, thanks to the Wild Blueberry Commission, who sponsored my trip, plus two easy wild blueberries recipes so you can “go wild,” too!

Wild Blueberry and Banana Oatmeal Cups

How wild blueberries grow

If wild blueberries had a theme song it would be “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.”

As plants go, wild blueberries are among the toughest on earth. Anything that’s been thriving for 10,000 years in a desolate location called The Barrens of Maine, and in Eastern Canada and Quebec, is hardy stock.

Wild blueberries love the thin, acidic soil found in this cold, harsh climate.

Tough conditions make for delicious and nutritious wild blueberries! (Photo courtesy of Wild Blueberry Commission.)

Unlike the cultivated blueberries you buy fresh and frozen, it’s not possible to plant wild blueberries.  Wild blueberries spread naturally, and they have never been modified by man.

Wild blueberries are smaller than the cultivated kind, so you get more of the skin in a serving.  As a result, their skin is packed with plant compounds called phytonutrients.

Eating foods rich in phytonutrients, such as wild blueberries, helps support brain health. Phytonutrient intake is also linked to a reduced risk for heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions.

Wild blueberries ripe for harvesting. (Photo courtesy of Wild Blueberry Commission.)

Once picked, wild blueberries are frozen individually within about 24 hours of harvest, preserving taste and nutrition. As a result, frozen wild blueberries are available year-round.

These frozen wild blueberries are ready to be packaged. (Photo courtesy of Wild Blueberry Commission.)

The nutrition benefits of wild blueberries

A cup of wild blueberries, which qualifies as a serving of fruit, supplies 20% of your daily need for fiber. In addition, a cup is good or excellent source of several minerals, including iron, all for just 80 calories.

I snack on plain wild blueberries topped with sliced almonds or a bit of granola to add some crunch. And, wild blueberries are delicious in a variety of recipes.

These baked oatmeal goodies are a riff on my No Added Sugar Banana Raisin Oatmeal Cups.

Baked oatmeal cups brimming with wild blueberries and whole grain goodness.

Wild Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Cups

Makes 18 servings.

3 cups oats, uncooked

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, optional

3 ripe medium bananas, mashed well

1/4 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 cups 1% low-fat milk

2 1/2 cups frozen wild blueberries

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk the mashed bananas, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until well combined.  Whisk in the milk.

Pour the banana mixture into the oats mixture. Stir well to combine. Gently add the wild blueberries.  The batter may be a little soupy. That’s OK.

Fill the muffin cups nearly to the top with batter (a scant 1/4-cup full).

Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until set.  Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack for 5 minutes, with the muffins still in the pan. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on the wire rack. Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

Wild Blueberry, Bean, and Beets Smoothie

You’re probably wondering: beans in a smoothie? I wanted a smoothie that was different than what I usually make and was a mixture of wild blueberries and vegetables (beans are vegetables). You can leave the beans out if you think they are too weird, but you can’t taste them.

Beans, beets, and wild blueberries combine to make a delicious and nutritious drink.

I rimmed the glasses with a mixture of sugar and a teaspoon or so of beet juice. You don’t have to rim the glasses, but it makes the drink fancy, especially if you’re serving it as a mocktail.

Invert the glass into a thick mixture of sugar and beet juice and allow it to set for a few minutes.

Rimming the glasses with sugar and beet juice is simple and makes the drink fancy.

Wild Blueberry, Bean, and Beets Smoothie

Makes 1 serving.

2 tablespoons sugar

1 small cooked peeled packaged beet, plus 1-2 teaspoons beet juice from the package

1 cup frozen wild blueberries

1/4 cup white beans, drained if canned

1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Prepare the glass. Combine the sugar with the beet juice in a small bowl. Invert the rim of the glass into the sugar mixture, rotating to cover the rim. Shake off the excess sugar, and set aside.

Place the beet, wild blueberries, beans, yogurt, and maple syrup in a blender or food processor and blend on high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Pour into prepared glass. Top with a few frozen wild blueberries and enjoy!

Nobody has to know there are beans in their wild blueberry smoothie!


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